Four Things about Case Studies: Thing 3: Your Hero may need Help…

From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry


Once you find your hero, the next thing to think about as you move through the process of turning your case study into a success story is the case study interview. 

Your hero may need help!  Your case study candidate may not be a storyteller.  That’s okay because you ARE!  The trick is getting all the relevant information out of your Hero with out wasting their (or your) time.  Planning the interview will ensure your success.

case study interview

In the series of posts, Four Things about Case Studies: From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry, Thing 3 considers the importance of the interview in shaping your success story.

The Interview

Once you have your Hero, you need to get their story out of them.  The interview is crucial.  Be ready, and get the Hero prepared as well. The goal of the interview is to gather emotions, quotes, anecdotes, and results.

The time

This is important.  Your Hero is busy.  Don’t waste their time playing phone tag.  Contact the case study candidate and schedule a convenient time for the interview.  Also, don’t waste time during the interview.  Properly planned and executed, it should take less than an hour. 

The interview will also go much smoother if, when you schedule the interview, you also send your Hero a copy of the questions you intend to ask.

The questions

Sending your case study candidate a copy of the questions serves several purposes.  Possibly the most important reason to use a questionnaire is that it makes it that much easier to keep the interview on track.  Keeping the questions in the same order as the case study, makes the writing up that much easier.


This short section gives a brief description of your Hero, the company., and the industry. Starting with this section eases the candidate into the interview with the easy stuff.  It also gives you an idea of how the Hero sees his role in the story.


In this section you want to find out what challenge they were facing that made them start looking for a new solution.  For instance, did they need to reduce costs? Increase compliance?

Your questions should identify whether they had been using a solution from another provider before they implemented your solution.  If they had been, ask why they decided it was time for a change?


The Solution section is really the marketing meat of the interview.  You need to find out how they decided on a solution and why did they pick yours.

You might want to ask questions like:

  • How did you hear about our company and/or solutions?
  • Did you evaluate any other solutions before selecting our product/service? If yes, please describe that process.
  • What specific aspects of our product/service appealed to you? Was there a deciding factor that tipped the scales in our favor?
  • How did you implement the product/service across your company? Was the process fast and easy, or did you run into some bumps along the way?


You need to find out the benefits did your solution provided. 

case study interview
  • Can your Hero provide data that measures the impact (hard or soft metrics) of implementing your solution?
  • Do they have quantitative data about the performance of your solution in practice? 
  • Will they let you use it in the case study? 

Graphs and charts can be an excellent way of demonstrating your solution.  Figures also serve to break up blocks of text, increasing the readability of the document.

Next week’s post explains how to structure your success story and present data that demonstrates how your solution saved the day.

Future steps – how the solution will continue to provide benefits into the future.

Since the customer has had a chance to consider the questions before the interview, you should be able to draw out details of benefits that maybe were unexpected.  Listen carefully and ask for details of key features and benefits of your solution that really resonated with the customer.

The person

Now this may seem obvious but be sure to interview a real, live person.  A case study based on testimonial videos and notes from the sales team won’t come across as an engaging success story.  You want to be able to draw out details that the customer hadn’t anticipated, just by listening and interacting with a real person.

The record

case study interview

Whenever possible, and only with the customer’s consent, you should record the interview.  This allows you to focus on the interview and not worry so much about note-taking.  You won’t have to go back to the customer to clarify things you didn’t write down.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take notes during the interview.  Technology does sometimes let us down and the physical action of writing notes tags that information in our brains.

Next steps

Before concluding the interview, you should let the Hero know what happens next.  You may need to ask follow-up questions (hopefully not if you were prepared for the interview…).  Let them know when they can expect a copy of the draft case study for review.  A review by the Hero at this time ensures all product and personnel names are correct and that the Hero is pleased with the content.

When your success story is finalized, make sure the Hero has a chance to review the document again, in its final format.  Always get formal approval before publishing the success story.


Interviewing effectively is another key thing to master for case study success.  With preparation and planning your success story will almost write itself.

In the final post of the series: Four things about case studies: From Case Study to Success Story. Building Trust in the Water Industry next week’s post will look at how visualization can help your data sell the story.  Thing 4: Let Your Data Sell the Story.

Are you so busy making a difference to your clients that you don’t have time to tell your good news stories?  Have you solved a wastewater problem for a client, a community, a country? Then get that story out there!  Let the world know how your company solves problems and makes a difference.

That’s where WATER COPY comes in.  I research and write top quality science-based success stories.

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.